Review Summary: You could listen to 2 hours of Godspeed to get into post rock, but why not save your time and listen to this?
What makes an album so endearing that it sounds “down-to-earth” or “folky?” It really depends on the ethnicity of the musicians involved. Eastern music sounds indigenous to its region because of its tonality system that diversifies itself from Western music. Francis Scott Key defined American folk music by penning the national anthem’s opening statement with a leapy melody. From then on, those arpeggiated, leapy melodies made most American classical music sound “American.” Hence, Aaron Copland rose as America’s representative in classical music during the 20th century.
Spokes, from outside Manchester, England, manages to create this down-to-earth, indigenous atmosphere- music to accompany the rolling countryside that they reside in. The soaring violin melodies and guitar chord patterns all establish the image of a picturesque green English countryside. In the music’s exuberant tempo changes and gleeful energy, Spokes creates post rock that sounds cheerful rather than melancholic. In “Young People! All Together”, children giggle in the background and the band gracefully accelerates through motif after motif. The occasional vocals, used sparsely throughout the album, resemble that of A Silver Mt. Zion in that they are not technically “good”, but certainly emotional. Spokes differ from many bands of this style because of their euphoric melodies, a breath of fresh air in the instrumental world not felt since Enjoy Eternal Bliss.
This is no Yndi Halda clone, however, because of the phrasing and pacing of the album. Opener and lead single “We Like to Dance and Steal Things” is one of the catchiest post rock songs ever created, and in its short 3:42 length, represents a chance for Spokes to break through the mainstream in a way Explosions in the Sky could never muster. It grows from a standard guitar melody into a standard EQ-busting chord progression, and the drummer builds the crescendo perfectly in style. At the surface, the song is just that – standard post rock perfectly executed. Underneath that surface, however, are gorgeous violin countermelodies and tempo shifts, all the other elements of a standard post rock song that allow it to transcend above the genre. All in less than four minutes. “Precursor” shifts the mood of the album to something more melancholy and sparse. The most vocal-dominant song, “Precursor” shows an even more sensitive side to the band in the surprisingly tuneful vocal harmonies and longing emotions conveyed through the climax.
Obviously, with People Like People Like You
, Spokes intends to convey a message of hope. “Scatter : I Miss You” captures that message in even shorter time than the album’s single, with even more contrast. With the right publicity, Spokes could induct new listeners into the genre because of the band’s combination of fairly standard post rock formula and condensed song lengths. Still, the band does not hold back on the complexity or intricacy of the material, the music is just less redundant and thus better for it. As “Scatter : I Miss You” demonstrates, epic does not mean 10 minute songs. It can be less than three.